This week at Daily Grindhouse, we’re celebrating sexuality on film in all of its forms – from sophomoric T & A comedies, to sleazy mysteries and thrillers, to more sophisticated journeys into kink. In this modern day, there seems to be less sex going on in film—perhaps because it’s too easy to get amateur pornography online — and even in a post-FIFTY SHADES world, there is a societal notion that sex is “icky,” even by pundits on the left. As George Michael once sang: “Sex is natural, sex is good, not everybody does it, but everybody should.”
At the end of the 1970s, it appeared America was moving towards a more European ideal when it comes to views towards sex. Key parties were en vogue, Bob Guccione’s CALIGULA combined arthouse aesthetics with the porn industry’s much more lurid approach to filmmaking, and of course, the adult cinema industry was flourishing. While that progress came to a halt with the election of Ronald Reagan, who ushered in a new era of American Puritanism, the 1980s also saw the rise of softcore comedies and erotic thrillers, almost as an adversarial answer to conservatism.
February 8th, 1980 — Valentine’s Day weekend — saw the release of Paul Schrader’s AMERICAN GIGOLO, which arguably ushered in a decade’s worth of sordid filmmaking, combining noir storytelling with R-rated sexuality. Boobs and butts were also a major selling point on plenty of comedies of the day, from PORKY’S to HARDBODIES to REVENGE OF THE NERDS. The VHS revolution and cable television helped bring these movies into the homes of countless adolescents whose parents never gave them the birds-and-the bees talk. It’s not sex education, it’s HBO.
This is SOFTCORE WEEK at Daily Grindhouse… welcome to it.